Getting a Running Start

Getting a Running Start

by Susan Neuhalfen

Running has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it’s hard on the body. It jars joints and causes tight hamstrings. On the other hand, it’s a very quick way to lose weight and a great motivator. It is also addictive, and once that addiction is discovered by a runner, the euphoria is unmatched.

For those just starting to run, it can be intimidating. Luckily thousands before have taken the time to create the best equipment available to make learning to run easier than ever.

Here are a few first steps to make that transition to running:

Couch to 5K Apps
Signing up for a run is a great way to motivate yourself and there is no better motivator than a 5k (3.1 miles). Unlike a 1 mile fun run, it’s just long enough to be a challenge. There are several apps entitled “Couch to 5k” for the beginning runner. Many are free and some work better than others depending on the type of phone used. A few recommended include: Run5k, 5k Runner, C25K, 5k Coach, Total Couch to 5k. These will give the runner schedules (including makeup schedules for those runs missed), monitor running activities and motivate the runner to reach his or her goals. After accomplishing the 5k, the runner will then graduate to a general running app.

GPS Watch – Heart Monitor
It’s important to keep an eye on heart rate which is why a good Fitbit, Apple, Garmin or Polar watch will not only monitor heart rate it will sync with many apps to keep track of your runs.

For a more accurate reading, there are watches that come with a heart rate monitor that straps around the upper torso.

There are also headphones with heart monitoring including Jabra Sport Pulse and Bragi Dash, but they aren’t cheap, ranging from $150 to $250.

The Right Shoes
Don’t just go to a shoe outlet and buy a comfortable running shoe. Go to a shoe store that specializes in running shoes. Let the specialist watch you run or walk. Runners may run on their toes, the outside of the feet, their heels…it varies, and there are shoes designed specifically for how you run. The right shoe can mean the difference between sore hips and ankles or feeling great. Stores that will do this include Run On In and Luke’s Locker. While you’re at it get some good, cushy running socks.

A Good Place to Run
Running around the neighborhood looking at the same houses gets boring. Finding a good trail is a great motivator. Luckily many new neighborhoods are building these trails with better scenery than the neighbor’s house. Also there are many parks around with trails. Google “running trails near me” and there will be plenty. Also, don’t get discouraged. If one doesn’t work, others will.

Take Your Mind Off It
The point of listening to something is to take your mind off the run and put it into a positive state. Design a playlist with songs that mimic the beats per minute (BPM) of the run. There are several websites that will help determine the beats per minute and help find songs that fit that timing or push you to go or are just two examples. is a free app with playlists designed by DJs for perfectly timed run music.

Podcasts and books are available if you prefer something other than music. The app Zombies, Run narrates an adventure story in which the runner outruns hordes of hungry zombies while collecting things for the mission. There is also The Walk, a James Bond-type adventure story that progresses in pace with the runner.

Find a Mate
To take running in a more social direction, there are plenty of running clubs in the area, most are free or minimal cost. There are even some that meet at local bars and after a run have some pasta and a pint. Some local clubs include the North Texas Striders and Denton Area Running Club. Search the internet and find one that fits your style.

There are plenty of other hacks out there to make running easier. Start with these basics and then work into exactly what is needed to make running a great go-to sport that fits your schedule. Remember, it’s never too late to start a great new habit like running.

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